Have you ever suffered from a UTI? Or do you simply enjoy the delicious taste of cranberry juice like me?
Whether you keep cranberry juice in your cabinets for medical relief or as a tasty beverage of choice, you’ll be glad to know you don’t have to buy it from the grocery store any longer.
Instead, you can either purchase fresh cranberries when on sale or grow them yourself. From there, you can make homemade cranberry juice and preserve it yourself too.
Interested in learning how? You’re at the right place! I’m going to walk you through the process of making fresh cranberry juice and preserving it.
Here’s all you need to know to begin making cranberry juice:
1. Prep Cranberries
When you begin to make your cranberry juice, it’s important to start by making sure you’re working with a clean product.
Be sure your fresh cranberries have been thoroughly washed under cold water. I recommend filling up your sink with cold water and gently pushing the berries around. It should loosen dirt and any bugs which may have hitched a ride into your kitchen.
From there, drain the water from the sink and dry the cranberries.
2. Add Water
Once your cranberries are clean, measure how many cups you have. This is important because you must add an equal number of cups of water.
When you know how many cups of cranberries you have, add them to a large stockpot. Add the equivalent cups of water to match the number of cups cranberries in the pot.
3. Cook the Berries
The cranberries must be cooked before they can be juiced. To do this, set the stove on medium-high heat and bring the pot of water and cranberries to a boil.
Once the cranberries have reached boiling point, turn the stove down to medium-low. Be sure to stir the berries to keep them from sticking to the bottom.
When the berries have burst open, you’re ready for the next step in the juice making process.
4. Strain Berries
When the berries have been cooked, softened, and eventually have burst, it’s time to strain them. You can do it in multiple ways.
First, you can run the cranberries through a strainer lined with a jelly bag, cheesecloth, or ham sock.
Place the strainer over a clean pot and allow the juice to run into it. Once all the fluid has drained, wrap the berries in the cheesecloth and squeeze to remove any remaining liquid.
Another option for juicing the cranberries is to run them through a food mill. It will squeeze all the juice from the cranberries without forcing you to get your hands dirty.
Be sure to process the cranberries over a clean pot.
The final option for juicing the cranberries is to run them through a juicer. The juicer will strain all juice from the cranberries and should take less time too.
5. Add Sugar
Once you’ve juiced the cooked cranberries, you should only have the juice remaining in a clean pot. You can go all-natural and add no extra sugar to the cranberries.
Keep in mind though; this will make tart juice.
However, if you’d prefer to have a sweeter flavored juice, add sugar to the cranberry juice. You can add as much or as little as you’d like.
This will also vary depending upon how big of a batch of cranberry juice you’re making at a time.
6. Heat Juice Again
After adding the sugar to the cranberry juice, place the pot on the stove again. Turn the stove on medium heat.
However, be sure you don’t allow the liquid to boil. You want it to heat all the way through, though. Stir and gently heat the juice for approximately five minutes.
7. Prep Jars
During the juicing process, begin prepping your jars for canning. Washing the jars in warm, soapy water is important. Be sure to dry them thoroughly as well.
However, if you don’t have this option, you can sanitize your jars in the oven.
Once your jars are washed, dried, and sanitized, they’re ready for use. You don’t have to sanitize your rings or lids but giving your rings a quick wash won’t hurt.
8. Fills Jars with Juice
After the jars are ready and the juice has been heated, it’s time to add the juice to the jars. Use a ladle and a canning funnel to get the juice in the jars safely without burning yourself.
Be sure to leave ½ inch headspace at the top of the jar to give the lids ample room to seal. Once the jars are filled, add your fresh lid and ring to the top of the jar, and seal securely.
9. Process the Juice
When the jars are ready, place them in your water bath canner. After the jars are in place, fill the canner with water until the tops of the jars are covered with water.
Place the canner on the stove and turn it on high heat. Once the water has reached a boil, begin timing the canning process. Pints and quart jars both should be processed for 15 minutes.
10. Juice Variation
Some people prefer their juice to be as clear as possible before canning. If you’d like a clearer juice, allow the juice to be refrigerated for 24 hours before reheating.
Once the time frame is up, ladle any sediment from the top of the pot before reheating.
11. Cool and Store your Cranberry Juice
After the jars are processed, use jar grabbers to remove them from the canner safely. Place the hot jars on a hard surface which has been padded with multiple layers of towels to avoid scorching the surface.
Leave the jars alone for 12 to 24 hours to give the lids time to seal. At the end of the waiting period, check all buttons on the top of the lids to make sure they’re down.
If not, reprocess the unsealed jars with a fresh lid. After you know all jars are sealed, label them with the date and contents.
Too much light or heat could destroy food quality and cause the food to spoil at a faster rate. When the jars are all stored, you’re officially done making and preserving homemade cranberry juice.
Hopefully, you’ll enjoy this process as much as I do and find it well worth repeating. By preserving your own food, you can cook in bulk, have food easily accessible throughout the year, and take pride in knowing you and your family are consuming healthy homemade produce, or in this case, healthy homemade cranberry juice.